13 November – World Kindness Day.

At the launch of 2011 Singapore Kindness Movement two days ago, Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong said that, Singaporeans today no longer spit on the streets, nor talk as loudly in public, as before.  Not being disrespectful or unkind to our former leader, and with no intention to be critical at all, I beg to disagree with his assessment.

Mr Goh could be true that we are more gracious now as compared to 40 years ago since I am not in such a position to make that comparison.  I think, as a developed country and progressive society, we will be in serious troubles if our society is not more gracious than 40 years ago.

However, how about comparing to 10 years ago?  Are we really better off now? Is it true that Singaporeans today no longer spit on the streets nor talk as loudly in public?  My personal experience (not just once but umpteen times) as a common citizen of Singapore, tells me otherwise.  And I have previously written about such unkind or ungracious behaviours.  I think it would be more believable for Mr Goh to substantiate his assessment with concrete evidence.

I happened to be at Orchard MRT station yesterday afternoon and that was rare for me since I would prefer to avoid the extreme crowds at such a place on weekends.  As part of the activities for kindness movement, kind volunteers were out to distribute yellow daisies to spread the idea of kindness “blooming” in Singapore.

I witnessed in disbelief how the many passers-by had actually rushed and swarmed around the volunteers to get hold of the free daisies.  I have even seen individuals with 3 or 4 yellow daisies each in their hands.  Is this an act of a graciousness or more likely an act of greed? I can’t help feeling sad and even disagree more strongly with what Mr Goh has said.  I also began to wonder the effectiveness of such an activity in promoting graciousness amongst our community!

According to dictionary, the word KINDNESS means “the quality of being friendly, generous and considerate“.  I see it as a quality that has to be nurtured from young, and the act of kindness has to be something truly from the heart, spontaneous and consistently being demonstrated.

As the saying goes – Charity begins at home – likewise kindness should also begin at home.  I think that’s where the campaign should begin from……


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